Two Muslim converts found guilty of murdering soldiers
Michael Adebolajo (29) and Michael Adebowale (22) brutally murdered Lee Rigby on May 22nd last
Photograph of Michael Adebolajo taken during interviews with police which was shown in court during the trial. Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were today found guilty of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby. Photograph: PA
Two Muslim converts were found guilty today of murdering a British soldier in broad daylight on a London street, hacking him to death in a gruesome killing that horrified the nation.
A jury at London’s Old Bailey criminal court decided unanimously that Michael Adebolajo (29) and Michael Adebowale (22) were guilty of murdering Lee Rigby on May 22nd but not guilty of the attempted murder of a police officer.
The court heard the two men ran over Rigby, a 25-year-old Afghan war veteran, near an army barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, then attacked his unconscious body with knives and a meat cleaver, trying to behead him.
They then dragged his corpse into the middle of the road where Adebolajo asked a bystander to video them, with their hands covered blood, as he calmly explained what he had done. “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we’ve killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers,” Adebolajo told the camera. “He is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
The murder horrified Britain and sparked a surge in reported hate crimes against Muslims, several anti-Islamist street protests by a right-wing group and government promises of tougher action on radical Islamic preachers.
As the jurors were thanked for their service, Mr Justice Sweeney said: “It’s no doubt a case that is going to stay with us all for a long time.” As the defendants were taken down, Adebolajo kissed his koran and raised it in the air. The judge expressed his “gratitude and admiration” for the soldier’s family.
He said they had “sat in court with great dignity throughout what must have been the most harrowing of evidence”. The judge added: “I’m extremely grateful to them and can only sympathise with what has happened to them and its continued effect ... upon all their lives.”
Fusilier Rigby’s family and friends, including his widow Rebecca, sat through weeks of harrowing evidence on the final movements of the soldier and his killers. Disturbing video footage of the soldier being run over by the Vauxhall Tigra, driven by his murderers at 30-40mph, was shown, as were clips of the two extremists dragging his limp and bloodied body into the middle of Artillery Place outside Woolwich barracks.
Adebolajo pulled Fusilier Rigby’s head to the side and attempted to decapitate him, while Adebowale stabbed him repeatedly.
Fusilier Rigby’s family said they were satisfied that justice had been done. In a statement read by Detective Inspector Pete Sparks, they said: “No one should have to go through what we have been through as a family. “We are satisfied that justice has been done, but unfortunately no amount of justice will bring Lee back. “These people have taken him away from us forever but his memory lives on in all of us and we will never forget him. “We are very proud of Lee, who served his country, and we will now focus on building a future for his son Jack, making him as proud of Lee as we all are. “Lee will be sorely missed by his siblings, nieces, nephew and all of those who loved him. “We now ask that we are left alone to grieve through our loss.”